Salone del Mobile, the annual Milanese furniture fair, is as for designers as it is for brands struggling to associate themselves with design in general--as evinced by the slew of events and unveilings that are only peripherally related to design. For example, today the French automaker Renault unveiled their much-hyped new concept car, the Twin’z, which was designed by the Welsh biomimicry guru Ross Lovegrove. “The aim was to break down the boundaries between the world of an object whose calling is to be in movement--the automobile--and that of furniture,” the carmaker explains in their release.
A few weeks ago, a teaser from Renault suggested that the car would be based on biomimicry--which made some wonder if there was a new, sustainable aspect to the design. That’s not exactly the case, unless you count the fact that the electric car gets great mileage. Lovegrove’s team focused solely on the bodywork and interiors, all borrowing from natural patterns and forms. The iridescent blue body (inspired by Yves Klein, according to Lovegrove) is coated in green LED lighting. A stippled grille maximizes the flow of air through the car. The headlight casings mimic a human iris. A layered LED roofscape “hoods passengers in a technological envelope that bathes them in a light which responds to the energy and pulse of Twin’Z,” explains Lovegrove. “Mechanical ‘hard’ aesthetics are making way for the biological principles of ‘soft’ aesthetics.”
The wheel is probably the most compelling detail. It’s an integrated rim and wheel, with a tire designed specially by Michelin and imprinted with grips that mimic Turing patterns. The parametrically-generated rim itself branches from a central core into dozens of smaller beams, like a fractal pattern.
Twin’z definitely doesn’t contain any paradigm-shifting technology, but Lovegrove explains that the idea was to demonstrate the technical capabilities of parametric design and fabrication with regards to cars. “The car has become a symbol of our progress and civilization,” he says, “an icon of our technocracy and our ability to transform materials into objects of great precision and physical presence.” It’s a shame that thesis is so hard to see through the Twin’z’s fog-machine-and-glowstick aura.